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Jack Graham - The Coming Kingdom of God

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    Jack Graham - The Coming Kingdom of God
TOPICS: All Things New, Book of Revelation, End times, Kingdom of God, Second Coming

The kingdom of God is coming. Do you know why? Because the King is coming. Jesus the Lord is risen from the dead. He has ascended to rule forever and He's returning one day and one day soon. And when He does, He will reign forever and ever and ever. Hallelujah! And the passage that we have before us talks about the coming of the kingdom of God. It's a bit of a fast-forward all the way to the end of the book of Revelation when we together will worship Him in the new heavens and in the new earth. Jesus often spoke of the kingdom of God. He said, for example among His first words, Matthew 3:2, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is near". And then He said, Luke 17:21, "The kingdom of God is within you", meaning that when Christ the King rules in our lives, when He reigns in our hearts that the kingdom is within.

Jesus taught us to pray, Matthew 6:10, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". And every time you pray that prayer that our Lord gave us, known as the model prayer, when you pray "Your kingdom come, Your will be done", you are praying not only for the reign and rule of Christ in you today, that he would be king of your heart, King of your life, but you're praying for the return of Christ when the kingdom comes. Every time you pray that prayer, you are praying, "Lord Jesus, King, come again and establish Your kingdom, that Your will would be done on earth as it is in heaven". And there is coming a day when that will be fulfilled, and that prayer will be answered. It's the coming kingdom of God.

So there is one sense in which the kingdom of God within us is internal. It's an internal kingdom. But there's another sense in which it is a kingdom that is yet to come, yet to be fulfilled. So there is a spiritual kingdom, an internal kingdom, but then there's a material, physical eternal kingdom, a new heaven and a new earth. And that's what we're going for in the book of Revelation. Let's look beginning in chapter 11, verse 1, first at a future temple, the future temple: "Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, 'Rise up and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months'".

Now John who's just now getting over eating the bitter sweet book, remember the bitter-sweet book, that sweet and sour scroll that he ate? It was sweet to the taste but bitter in the belly. So he's still licking his lips and holding his stomach just a bit and he's told to now be a surveyor and to measure the Temple. Now when you measure something, like a surveyor, you are taking possession of it, or showing ownership. You are marking it. And so John is marking and measuring this temple area because God is saying the Temple belongs to Me. This section of ground is Mine, uniquely, strategically, forever Mine, along with those to whom I've given it which is my people, Israel.

So John acts as this surveyor and he measures this ground which is in Israel: Jerusalem, Israel; zero in, a temple mount where the sacred temple of God, the temple of the Jews rested for many generations. The first temple was Solomon's Temple, built under the reigning of King Solomon of Israel. When Israel rebelled against God and they were carried into captivity, the Babylonians destroyed the Temple in many ways, and yet it was rebuilt in Zerubbabel's time after the great Babylonian captivity. So there's Solomon's Temple and in effect a rebuild or a reconstruct of the temple during Zerubbabel's time. And then thirdly, there is a temple known as Herod's temple in the time of Herod which would have been the time of Jesus when Jesus walked on the earth.

In fact when you go to Israel today, it's a great experience, of course, you go to the remains of the Temple and what remains around the Temple walls would be the period of Herod's Temple. Herod's temple, and the last temple was destroyed in A.D. 70. The Roman general Titus under the Roman occupation as Jesus predicted and said, the Temple would be turned upside down, not a stone unturned. It was considered blasphemy but, of course, Jesus knew what would be happening, and sure enough Titus and the Romans came in. They killed 1 million Jews as they destroyed the temple in A.D. 70. John is writing this passage of scripture on the Isle of Patmos in approximately A.D. 95, twenty-twenty-five years after the temple is gone.

So what is John seeing here? Why is John writing about a temple? It's obvious, isn't it? There is a temple yet to come. There is a temple that will be rebuilt. You might call it a Tribulation temple, in that it is built during the Tribulation period. Perhaps the antichrist himself will enable the Jews through a false-peace treaty to rebuild this temple. We know that he will be involved. It appears that in the Tribulation in the last days and the end of days Jews will be worshipping in the Temple, praying in the Temple, sacrificing in the Temple. But in order for that to happen two critical things must take place, two essentials.

Number one, Israel must return to her homeland. After the destruction of the Temple and the destruction of the Jewish nation, they were scattered to the ends of the earth, all over the world. And through the centuries, because God had promised that one day they would return to their homeland, return to Israel and Jerusalem, pious Jews prayed and in God's own time He restored His people and returned them to Israel, 1948 when Israel became a nation again. And after a series of wars and battles, Israel now a nation took control of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount area.

So the Jews are back in their land, check! But there is a major obstacle for rebuilding the Temple. If the Temple as the Scripture said is going to be rebuilt, and John, looking in the future, measured this Temple and he marked it out. Said this is God's land. This is the epicenter! This is one hot piece of real estate, folks! This is the epicenter of everything in the earth. There's one major problem and it's this. When you look from the Mount of Olives there over into the city of Jerusalem, glistening in the light is a Muslim shrine. You see it there with its golden roof? It is called the Dome of the Rock. It is the third most holy place in all the Islamic world. Muslims say that that is place that Mohammed ascended into heaven from this very place and it has been there for centuries and it appears that it will be there for centuries more unless something happens.

And right now people have no clue as to how... and the problem is this mosque sits right on the place where the Jewish Temple existed. So how can you rebuild the Temple with that mosque there? If you tear it down, that's World War Three. I don't know how it will happen but the Temple will be rebuilt there. But I will tell you it will happen. The Temple will be rebuilt. And with all this growing interest today in the rebuilding of the Temple and the preparation, we know that something is brewing that never since, in the last 2000 years has there been such interest and involvement. We know when we read history, when we read current world affairs that something momentous is happening in the Middle East, in Jerusalem and on this Temple Mount that will ultimately impact the destiny of the world, and of all of planet earth.

This Temple will survive the Tribulation even in the trampling in the last three and half years, as we read there in verse 2, even in the trampling of the Gentiles in the midst of all this Tribulation the Temple will survive. But this will be a part of the coming kingdom of God. The future Temple. But then there's a second thing and that is the fearless twosome, or the fearless testimony. Look in verses 3 and following: "'And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.' These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth". That's a reference to Zachariah 4 and verse 6. "And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. They have the power to shut the sky, and no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they are desire".

Two mysterious, miraculous men show up in sackcloth and ashes, supernatural men in the power of God's Spirit. Powerful preachers, evangelists who are like superheroes because they have this amazing, miraculous power. And they help usher in the kingdom. And I'm going to show you how because they stand boldly and courageously in the worst generation in the history of the world, in the darkest times in the history yet to come of the world as light and as a faithful testimony. Now who are they? There's debate about that. I will tell you this: in my study of Scripture they are not just representations of something metaphysical, they are not symbolic personalities; they are first person! They are real persons. And when you read these verses something sounds familiar.

When I was just reading verses 3 and 4 and 5, did you recognize some of the activity? If you read your Bible you may realize that one of these men most likely is Elijah himself. It was Elijah who went before King Ahab in the Old Testament and said there will be no rain in Israel, and shut up the heavens. And one of these two men, when they preach they have the power to shut up the heavens. It was Elijah who called down fire from heaven and the power of God fell like a nuclear explosion on the altars on Mount Carmel. The fire fell when Elijah spoke. It was Elijah who ascended into heaven. He never died; he went to heaven in a whirlwind of fire! So it makes sense to me that this powerful preacher, evangelist, prophet that testifies is Elijah himself.

There is a prophecy at the end of the Bible, Malachi, rather the Old Testament. Malachi chapter 4, verse 5 says that "At the end of days God will send Elijah before the great and deadly day of the Lord". So I believe this is the fulfillment of that prophecy. You say, "Well, I thought that was John the Baptist". No, John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah, but he was still John the Baptist who introduced the Lord Jesus to the world. Elijah the prophet will return and usher in the end of Days, the great and deadly day of the Lord, to prepare the way of the Lord. So this is Elijah who had the power to stop the rain, to call down fire from heaven, who ascended into the presence of the Lord. Who is this second powerful personality? Who was it that with his rod and staff put blood in the seas? Who was used by God to send plagues upon the earth?

Of course, that is Moses. He himself had a mysterious exit to this world in that when he died his body was never found though buried on Mount Nebo. These two very powerful Old Testament personalities appear to show up again with the supernatural power of God. Another interesting point which indicates that Moses and Elijah are these two people. When Jesus was transfigured, when all that He was on the inside, His glorified godly state was manifest on the outside, He was transfigured. It was a microcosm of the coming kingdom of God because standing there with Him was who? Moses and Elijah, representing the Law, Moses; the prophets, Elijah. Also representing what two ways to get into the kingdom of God. Elijah, like those of us who will be raptured, never died but was translated, taken into heaven. Moses, he died but the Lord took him to heaven and buried him Himself.

So I believe that these two powerful personalities, Moses and Elijah! What do they do? Well, they're preachers! They testify. And what do they preach? They preach in sackcloth which means brokenness and passion and in tears. With broken hearts they cry out to God and they pray for men, and they preach! Remember, there were 144,000. Remember this? 144,000 Jewish evangelists during the Tribulation who are preaching and proclaiming Christ! Yes, people come to Christ during the Tribulation period because God is merciful. In wrath He remembers mercy, and there is an opportunity for some to know Christ in the face of this terrible judgment. And now God sends at the end two more witnesses! These powerful, supernatural men! What do they preach? They preach repent, for the kingdom of God is near! They preach Christ and Him crucified, risen and coming again! They warn of judgment and hell that is yet to come! They preach of hope and the promise of eternal life! They are preachers of the Word of God in the midst of all of this judgment, in the midst of all of this pain. But they are persecuted.

In fact, look in chapter 11, beginning at verse 7. It's a key verse. Mark this. I hope you've got your Bibles open and a notebook, you're taking notes. It says: "And when they finished their testimony, the beast", this is the first reference to the beast. We're going to get to the biography of the beast later on who is the antichrist. But the beast himself. It's as though these men have shaken the corridors of hell with their preaching, and to the very pit of hell! The beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt where the Lord was crucified. John could never get it out of his heart and out of his head that it was there in the city of our great God that Jesus was crucified.

It has now become like Sodom in its vileness at the end of the age. It has become like Egypt in its vanity at the end of the age. And the antichrist tries to shut the story down. But listen to this: we are immortal, we are indestructible, we are undefeatable in the will of God. That's why I wanted you to mark verse 7, for it says: "And when they had finished their testimony", Satan couldn't touch them! The world couldn't touch them until God said, "You can touch them", until they were finished with the task and the testimony that God had given them. The Bible says, 1 John 2:17, "He who does the will of God abides forever". Until they had finished and until you finish the task and the testimony that God has given you as a follower of Jesus, no weapon formed against you will prosper!

That's why you want to live full-throttle every day and make a difference with your life. And do the same thing that these two men did, and that is to share your testimony and live your testimony and be faithful even unto death. Now when these two men are martyred and murdered in the streets, they are left in the streets of Jerusalem to disintegrate, to rot. It will be a huge dishonor and desecration of the bodies, especially among Jews if they're not put in a tomb or put in a grave. In Revelation 11:9, look at it. This is going to startle you. Verse 9 of Revelations says: "For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations", that is, people all over the world, "will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb".

Now just a few years ago that would be impossible for the whole world to see these dead bodies of these two men lying in the streets of Jerusalem. Skeptics would look at that and say, "PHfft, that can't happen! The whole world? How is the whole world gonna see these two dead men laying in the streets in Jerusalem"? Well, you don't have to wonder how it happens today, do you? Youtube, live-streaming video. You can watch it on your ipad, you can watch it on your iphone, you can watch it on your television. It will be live, national, international news. And the whole world will see it! And there will be no mourning for these murdered missionaries. In fact, we're told there is a celebration that takes place.

Verse 10: "and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them", and make merry Christmas! It's the counterfeit Christmas. It's a sick celebration in that they are actually making merry and they are exchanging presents! "Merry anti-Christmas. Here's a nice little idol I wanted to get you". And the two prophets are dead in the streets and why are they celebrating? Because men love darkness rather than light. They celebrated when Jesus was put on the cross. They cried out for His blood, and they rejoiced and celebrated when He died. When you speak the truth, some people will hate you for it. And these prophets spoke the truth. They delivered a message that people for the most part resisted, unrepentant, didn't want to hear.

And the same happens today, doesn't it? "Don't tell me about your God! Who is God? What is God? Is there a God? Don't tell me Jesus is the only way to heaven, that Jesus is the only Savior! You're a bigot, you're a hater, you're fringe, you're a fool, you're a freak, you're a fanatic! Don't judge me with your Bible-thumping, verse-quoting scriptures"!

Men love darkness rather than light. It looks familiar and sound familiar because it is familiar. And the world throws this twisted party but watch what happens in verses 11 through 13. It says: "But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered into them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on all those who saw them". I guess so! And judgment came and there was an earthquake and many died, because once again we learn there are consequences to rebellion and sin against God.

But let's turn the page one last time, and again, push your fast-forward button now to the end of the age, and Revelation says that, verse 14: "that the third woe was soon to come. Then the seventh angel blew the trumpet, there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.' The twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones", we met them before. They represent the saints of all the ages, both Old Testament and New Testament believers, "they fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, 'We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign'".

Now we're in the kingdom. Now He reigns forever! "And the nations raged, but your wrath came", that is, justice is served, and the time for the dead to be judged, and there will be a judgment of the dead without Christ. But there will also be, verse 18, "a rewarding for your servants", You will be rewarded with a "well done". God speaks of crowns that He gives to Christians who are faithful to Him and that's the prophets and the saints. You say, "Well, I'm not a prophet". No. "Well, I'm not a saint". Yes, you are! You're either a saint or an ain't! You are either in the family of God or not in the family of God! And if you are saved, you are a saint, a child of God. And so all "the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name", they will be rewarded. We will be rejoicing, we will be rewarded, and we will be reigning with Him! The loud voice came from heaven. "The kingdom of this world".

One kingdom! There are many political auspices of this kingdom, there are many countries, many cultures, many politicize but there is one kingdom in this world and it's the kingdom of Satan. But the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our God and His Christ! Hallelujah! He reigns forever and ever! And the kingdom comes! And it's real, and it's everlasting! When Jesus taught us to pray, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven," that happens! And all things are made new! And evil is eradicated and justice is served and righteousness rules, and our God reigns forever and ever and ever! This promise of Revelation is fulfilled forever! And that's why this last point that I'm preaching is the forever triumph! We will reign with Him forever. And a new heaven and a new earth is coming.
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